What is the difference between green web design and sustainable web design

Many people are not aware of it, but green web design and sustainable web design are not at all the same thing. In fact, they are very different but they are still connected at the roots. Green web design is a small part of sustainable web design and that is how these two approaches are connected. 

The difference between the two is that green web design focuses on the environmental side of the website and sustainable web design focuses on both the environmental side and the people side. This was the short answer to the question, but to learn a bit more about the topic you can continue to the next section where we will talk about what green web design is in detail.

What is green web design?

Green web design is referred to when someone creates a website that is built to be energy efficient and last longer. When building a green website you take certain methods in use that will lower the overall size of the website and optimize it for your visitors. When done correctly you reduce the carbon footprint your website has, you drastically improve the loading speed and you improve your organic SEO results. 

Some green web design methods

Green web design covers lots of things, but two of the most used topics are green web hosting and green design thinking. As the name implies green web hosting is a data center running on 100% renewable energy and by hosting your green website in their data center you ensure that your website pollutes much less than it would if the data center were running on gray energy. After all, the server hosting your website will be running 24 hours every day, and depending on the number of visitors your website has it can cause lots of carbon dioxide to seep into the atmosphere.

Besides green web hosting, you also have to find your green thumb. There are tons of ways you can optimize your web design to help lower the carbon footprint your website has and some of them are:

There are hundreds of things you can do to make a web design green, but mentioning them all will be a topic and a few articles for another day.

What is sustainable web design?

Sustainable web design is a bigger category that puts both the planet and the people first. With sustainable web design, we mix green practices and ethical practices and come up with a list like this:

  • Clean: Services provided and used will be powered by renewable energy.
  • Efficient: Products and services will use the least amount of energy and material resources possible.
  • Open: Products and services will be accessible, allow users to control their data, and enable the open exchange of information.
  • Honest: Products and services will not mislead or exploit users.
  • Regenerative: Products and services will support an economy that nourishes people and the planet.
  • Resilient: Products and services will function in times and places where users need them most.

One of the ways we can put people first is, to be honest with them. Don’t trick them into buying products, don’t lower your prices to make it seem less, don’t automatically convert trials into paying customers, and don’t create a sense of urgency when there isn’t one. These are just some of the ways that we can put people first, but to explain further on the topic you can click here to read about the ethical principles in web design and what they mean.

If you like the idea of sustainable web design where both the environment and the people are in focus, then consider signing up for the sustainable web manifesto.

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Michael Andersen
Michael Andersen

Michael Andersen is the author of Sustainable Web Design In 20 Lessons and the co-founder of Sustainable WWW (World-wide-web), an organization teaching sustainable practices. With a passion for web design and the environment, Michael solves puzzles to make the internet more sustainable.

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